Having the most efficient recycling system sounds like an absolute perfect idea, but Sweden is facing an unusual quandary, the country has run out of garbage and that’s a huge problem for the country. The thought that running out of garbage is a problem might raise a few eyebrows, and one could ask, well, what is wrong with not having garbage in your country?

Here’s the tricky part for the Swedes, the country actually needs a huge and steady supply of garbage to provide energy for almost a quarter of a million homes, which are heated by waste incineration.

The problem for Sweden is it needs more fuel but the country is not generating enough waste to power the incinerators. The country has been forced to import waste, which will be used for fuel generation.

According to Public Radio International, burning the garbage in the incinerators generates 20 percent of Sweden’s district heating, a system of distributing heat by pumping heated water into pipes through residential and commercial buildings.

Read: Lessons for Africa from Finland’s bioenergy success story

Sweden reportedly recently started importing about eight hundred thousand tons of trash from the rest of Europe per year to use in its power plants. The countries pays Sweden to take their excess waste, Sweden benefits by using the waste to generate electricity.

 Waste Incineration plant: Photo: Charles Mafa

Waste Incineration plant: Photo: Charles Mafa

In a deal Sweden has with Norway, the remaining ashes from the incineration process, which are filled with highly polluting dioxins, are returned back to Norway and landfilled.

Sweden is the global leader when it comes to recycling waste. Waste management is being continuously developed and is the result of long-term, patient work, not least on the part of municipalities and their companies in cooperation with private players, the country says.

Perhaps an opportunity for African countries which produce the most usable garbage to utilise?